As part of the Defense Commissary Agency‘s continuing efforts to increase value and convenience at military commissaries across the world, military shoppers at more than 200 commissaries will have the option to use their Military Star card to pay for groceries starting in October. The additional credit card payment method is being incorporated into the point-of-sale payment overhaul already scheduled for the fall.
There are many reasons to be excited about this new option and a few concerns you may want to consider before using your Military Star card at the commissary.
The Benefits of Using Your Military Star Card at the Commissary
Many shoppers are already using credit cards to pay for groceries. Using the Military Star card has some distinct advantages:
Low Interest Rate
In addition to the low interest rate and fair credit lines offered even to those with little or bad credit , the Star card offers no late or over limit fees and the interest rate is reduced and payments waived during deployments. For junior service members and their spouses, the Military Star card can be a great way to build good credit.
Reap the Rewards
In addition to the Commissary Rewards program, shoppers using their Star card can earn extra rewards. Just like many other retail rewards cards, Military Star card users earn 10% back on all of their purchases. These rewards come in the form of a certificate or payment cards that are eligible for redemption at exchanges, shoppettes and on-post food vendors.
Our fingers are crossed that the rewards will also be eligible for use at the commissary. Every reward earned offers shoppers the potential to save some of their hard-earned cash.
Using the Star Card Supports MWR Programs
A considerable amount of the monies earned through interest on Military Star cards is used to fund MWR events and programs. Using your Star card helps keep our military dollars within our community.
Provides Options to Military Families
In her article, Star Card At The Commissary: Good or Bad? , Kate Horrell mentions one important benefit of this payment option:
“Service members who have run out of money will be able to purchase affordable, real food on credit instead of buying expensive junk food at the exchanges or minimarts/shoppettes.”
We know an unhealthy diet is usually a cheap diet, so having the Star card as an option for those months where a paycheck runs a little thin could be a value for some military families.
DeCA Gets to Save
Adding the Military Star card to the list of credit cards currently accepted at commissaries offers a direct benefit to DeCA. For every credit card purchase processed, DeCA must pay a small transaction fee to the credit card processor. Military Star card transactions, in comparison, cost less than say the fees paid to Visa or Mastercard.
The Concerns Associated with Using Your Military Star Card at the Commissary
So we’ve covered the benefits, but what should service members and their families think about before swiping their Star card? Two words – debt management.
Using the card to earn rewards can be a great way to stretch your budget, but that only works to your advantage if you pay off your credit card balance each month.
Credit for Consumables
Many financial advisors warn against using credit to purchase consumable goods. While it is easy and convenient to charge that $200 grocery bill to a credit card, if you only pay the minimum payment, by the time you pay off the balance, you’ll have paid an additional $15 or more in interest. And if you make a habit of it for every weekly grocery run, your annual grocery shopping bill could be more than $700 over what it would have been if you’d just paid cash.
Option for Garnishment
Plus, if you use your Star Card and don’t make a payment, you may soon find your military wages garnished to pay the bill. Regular credit cards don’t have that option.
If you are going to use your Military Star card at the commissary, reap the benefits, but take care to treat it just like any other credit card purchase and shop responsibly.